Young Coder

Recently, I’ve been thinking about kid coding and the world of tech education.

My children are just starting to take their first steps in tech. They’re experimenting with HTML, trying out different programming languages, and playing with plenty of STEM toys.

Unfortunately, the world of kid coding is filled with wild promises and overinflated hype. Parents and educators are so worried that children will be left behind in a fast-changing world that they promote any product with tech in the title, regardless of its educational value. Many companies are more interested in selling the idea of STEM than giving children a place to learn and grow with code.

At times, tech-for-kids is painfully shortsighted. There’s a rush to teach the simplest parts of coding—syntax, conditional logic, and so on—without teaching the real process of building, experimenting, and making mistakes. There are gamified coding environments that are technically impressive, but don’t capture the real iterative programming experience, or make room for creativity and self-expression. In short, there’s a gap between the tech education and STEM marketing, and it seems to be growing.

I’m still passionate about introducing my kids to the fun and the wonders of building things with code. I’ve recently started a couple of my own tech-for-kids projects, including a book with No Starch Press that’s in its early stages. If you want to stay up to date, follow me on Twitter or—even better—sign up for the ProseTech email list so you can get early notifications and become an advance reviewer.

In the meantime, I’ve created a publication on Medium called Young Coder, where we’re asking questions about science and tech education, and examining some great resources for learning to code. For example, is there a better way to introduce HTML to a novice than the magical X-Ray Goggles? And has it really come to this—a world where JavaScript is the best language for kids to learn first? If you’ve got a programmer-in-trainer of your own, you should come and join the discussion today!

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